Learning a foreign language provides an opening to other cultures. A high-quality languages education should foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world. The teaching should enable pupils to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to its speakers, both in speech and in writing. It should also provide opportunities for them to communicate for practical purposes, learn new ways of thinking and read great literature in the original language. Language teaching should provide the foundation for learning further languages, equipping pupils to study and work in other countries. At Whitehall Park School we believe that the learning of a foreign language provides a valuable educational, social and cultural experience for our pupils. It helps them to develop their ability to communicate, including key skills of speaking and listening and extends their knowledge of how language works. It provides excitement, enjoyment and challenge for children and teachers, helping to create enthusiastic learners and to develop positive attitudes to language learning throughout life. Learning another language gives children a new perspective on the world, encouraging them to understand their own cultures and those of others. The natural links between languages and other areas of the curriculum can enrich the overall teaching and learning experience.
At Whitehall Park children all children learn Spanish, however it is formally assessed in Key Stage 2 only. We have specialist teachers who teach Spanish from Year 2 upwards whilst Year 1 and EYFS are taught by their class teacher through a programme called Little Languages. We are also very lucky to have weekly Mandarin lessons in Year 1 provided by St Mary Magdalene Academy. St Mary Magdalene Academy is a Confucius Institute School which means they are a recognised centre of excellence in the teaching of Chinese Language and culture.
- foster an interest in language learning by introducing children to other languages in a way that is enjoyable and accessible to all pupils;
- stimulate and encourage children’s curiosity about language and creativity in experimenting with it;
- support oracy and literacy, and in particular develop speaking and listening skills;
- help children develop their awareness of cultural similarities and differences;
- lay the foundations for future language study by pupils;
- provide an added perspective on first language teaching and learning;
- give an extra dimension to teaching and learning across the curriculum.
There are three main contexts in which language teaching and learning take place.
1 Languages lessons
In Years 2 – 6 children are taught specific skills, concepts and vocabulary in a weekly dedicated lesson with a specialist Spanish teacher and teaching assistant (the content of these sessions is reinforced by the class teacher during the week).
EYFS and Year 1 follow the Little Languages Scheme where songs are taught weekly.
2 Languages embedded into other lessons
Where appropriate, teachers give children opportunities to practise their foreign language in the context of lessons in other subject areas. For instance, some instructions may be given in another language; or children may count in another language while carrying out a numeracy activity. This acts to reinforce the vocabulary and structures they have learned.
3 ‘Incidental’ language
Languages are part of the day to day life of the school. For example, teachers use the foreign language to give simple classroom instructions (‘come in quietly’; ‘listen’; ‘look’), to ask questions (‘who wants school dinner?’; ‘what’s today’s date?’) and to take the register. Children are encouraged to respond using the language they have learned, and sometimes teachers and pupils develop new language skills together, teachers acting as role models in the learning process.
For more information about learning languages in school please visit
To support your child at home with learning languages we recommend these websites: